Delta Airlines was bizarrely sued for more than $1 billion by one of its own pilots, Captain Craig Alexander. He was an 11-year veteran at Delta and claims he developed a text messaging app for flight crews that the airline stole and used as the basis for its own app. The $1 billion is apparently the value of the technology
"based solely upon operational cost savings to Delta."
Alexander claims that he built the QrewLive app on his own time and an investment of $100k. He pitched it to Delta to address crew communications problems after disruptive flights.
In 2016, a 5-hour power outage resulted in hundreds of flight cancellations for Delta and cost it more than $150 million. Alexander emailed the CEO, Ed Bastian saying he had a solution. Bastian allegedly responded promptly and referred him to the company's CIO.
Alexander claims he had several positive meetings with the airlines in 2015/2016 during which the execs made it clear that they were interested in acquiring the app. Delta eventually cut off discussions and then launched their own app in April 2018, called Flight Family Communications.
Short Squeez Takeaway: Craig Alexander will have a hard time proving his claims as a Delta employee. Companies typically own the right to anything produced by their workers. Although he has stressed that he put his own time and resources in the app and Delta said they would be willing to purchase it from him on the same terms as an outside vendor. Lesson of the Day: If you are working on your side hustle, pls don't pitch it to the very company you are working for...